MondoCon’s First Year – Crowded, Crazy, Successful!
By Javier Fuentes
F5. Text message Twitter notifications. Unusually high blood pressure. These are things that fans of Mondo, the Alamo Drafthouse’s boutique collectible arm, know all about. Their posters have gained great fame among diehard and mainstream fans for their beautiful artwork and print quality. At any given day, the posters will go up for sale at a random time only announced thought the @MondoNews account and seconds, minutes if you’re lucky, later, the posters will be gone. This method of selling is both accelerating or frustrating depending in whether you were able to check out or not.
Recently, they’ve been getting in the business of movie scores on vinyl (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and LOOPER), and soon they’ll be making toys including a 1/6th scale Alfred Hitchcock and the Iron Giant. So when it was announced that the inaugural MondoCon, during the opening weekend of Fantastic Fest, I decided to check it out. MondoCon is a collection of artists, toy makers, record labels and screen printing companies. The schedule was rounded out by panels covering various topics such as toy making, art directing posters. (SDIT THIS ONE) since I managed to get into Austin late Saturday might, I was only able to attend the 2nd day, but I was not disappointed.
To start off, if you were anywhere on twitter in the hours before the con opened you would read hyperbolic statements about 3 million people waiting in line. Yes, there was a line of people lined up going through the side of the building but reports indicated that the crowd and the lines died down as the day went on. When I first arrived around noon, I still expected a huge line to even get in the building. Imagine my surprise that I was able to get in immediately. As I’m,ade my way to the dealer room there was only a few long lines for artists such as Scott C (Great Showdowns) and Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Seconds) but nothing too crazy.
Being the big vinyl collector, I know that I wanted to get some of the recently announced SHAUN OF THE DEAD records. Given how popular director Edgar Wright’s zombie movie is, I expected them to be sold out. Thankfully the records along with seemingly all of the posters and exclusives were still easily available after a 2 minute wait in line.
Out on display in the lobby, there was the prototypes of their upcoming high end toy offerings including the Iron Giant, Hitchcock, and a variety of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures including a stylized Mikey and some 1/6th scale Mousers.
I got to attend a couple of panels that were interesting and showcased what the convention was all about. The first one was with production designer William Stout who told the story of the proposed 1983 American GODZILLA movie that was never meant to be. At the time it was going to be a special effects-filled 3D blockbuster due to that, Stout all but storyboarded the entire movie and he was able to set up a sideshow and take us through the movie’s plot. As a huge Godzilla fan, this story had huge potential to be a good remake. At the end of the panel, Mondo’s Justin Ishmael mentioned he’d love to out the storyboards out as a book. Fingers crossed!
Finally, there was the Mondo Talk panel that consisted of Ishamel, Rob Jones and Mitch Putnam as they gon through various unused concepts for posters that’ve been released in the past. The majority of the panel gave us a behind the scenes look at the process of how some gorgeous pieces of art are struck down due to licensing (Marvel) or the estate of the actor rejecting an image (in the case if Marlon Brando’s estate rejecting a GODFATHER poster). While it was a bummer to know these posters would never go up on my wall, but the sheer creativity and skill was pretty inspiring. The trio wrapped up the panel by letting the audience “art direct” an upcoming BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES poster of the famous episode, Joker’s Favor.
All things considered, this MondoCon appears to have been a great success. Sure, it seemed people were crazy in the first day by lining up hours before it opened but considering that this brand has built its reputation on both quality can you really blame people for being overly cautious? This ended up being a well-run event between the great volunteers keeping the crowds under control and the panels running on time, it was an enjoyable con experience and I can’t wait to see how the Mondo guys up the ante next year.